BOSTON — Returning to the building where he helped forge his reputation as a smart and generous public servant, the late Gov. Argeo Paul Cellucci laid in state yesterday in the Hall of Flags.
“Paul was a natural. He was touched by fire,” said former Gov. Bill Weld, who ran with Cellucci, as the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, in back-to-back victories in 1990 and 1994, part of an unbroken streak of wins over the course of Cellucci’s career in electoral politics.
The State House was filled with former and current elected officials, Democrats and Republicans paying homage to the pol from Hudson, who died Saturday after years battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Former Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, sat in the front row of the House chamber next to former Gov. Michael Dukakis, the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, and former Acting Gov. Jane Swift and former Gov. William Weld.
“Paul was a public servant first and a politician second. Paul proved that in the blood sport of Massachusetts politics, you can be a truly good and decent person and succeed at the highest levels,” said Swift, whom Cellucci selected to run on his ticket as lieutenant governor.
In a voice that cracked at times with emotion, Swift praised Cellucci’s efforts to advance women in positions of power, which was borne out by his appointment of Margaret Marshall to be the first female chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, and in smaller gestures, such as discounting comments made about a woman’s “female temperament” that he thought would not be made about men, Swift said.
“Despite a significant risk, he was reliably pro-choice, and his leadership on the issues of domestic violence, and Herculean efforts to pass legislation to protect victims from their assailants, saved lives,” Swift said. She said, “He did usher in an era of leadership for women.”